Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread

Cinnamon, sugar, butter. [Cue drool]

On days where I have to wake up before the sun, my first smile comes with the thought of breakfast. I could live off of breakfast and brunch foods forever. In fact, after my 85th birthday I plan to do just that, with ice cream for both pre- and post-dinner snack.

This bread was my first introduction to the fabulous Joy the Baker. Her pull-apart bread would be the perfect pairing to your morning coffee or tea, but it's best to consider this a brunch recipe. Why? It's a yeast bread. Dun, dun, dun. Don't go running just yet, but do heed my warnings: (1) multiple steps and rises are required in this recipe (so worth it) and (2) after spending your morning preparing this bread, you will be angry (but satisfied) with how fast it disappears.

pull-apart = no slicing required
When you begin to roll your dough out, you might hesitate to use all of the butter and cinnamon sugar mixture in between your layers. It looks like a lot but do not hesitate. You're on your way to warm, buttery, cinnamon sugar heaven. I wouldn't want you to end up disappointed, with only a slightly cinnamon tasting bread.   

The tiny slices look the pages of the best tasting book ever written. The key is to bake your bread long enough to cook through the center. I was extra careful the first time through (hence the dark edges) but the center was perfect. 

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread
Makes one 9 by 5 in. loaf

2 3/4 c. plus 2 T. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 t. salt
2 oz. unsalted butter
1/3 c. whole milk
1/4 c. water
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract

1 c. sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
2 oz. butter, melted

To make the dough, whisk 2 cups of flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Set aside. Whisk eggs and set aside. In a small saucepan, melt milk and butter. Remove from heat and add water and vanilla extract. Let stand for one to two minutes. 

Combine milk mixture and dry ingredients. Add the eggs and stir well. Add the remaining 3/4 c. flour and stir until a sticky dough forms.

Transfer the dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and clean kitchen towel. Place in a warm place and let the dough rise for about 1 hour (dough should double in size). 

While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Melt 2 oz. of butter. Grease a 9 by 5 in. loaf pan.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll the dough into a 12 in. by 20 in. rectangle. Spread the melted butter over the top of the dough with a pastry brush and coat with the cinnamon sugar mixture. With a pizza cutter, slice the dough into six equal strips. Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six slices once again. Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan. Cover the pan with a kitchen towel and allow to rest one more time, for 30-45 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350°.

After the final rise, bake the bread for 30-35 minutes. Be sure to bake the bread until the top is golden brown to ensure that the bread has cooked through the center. Best served warm and the day it's made.

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